Sunday Jan 03, 2021
The new coronavirus variant that was discovered in the UK a few weeks ago, has not been reported in any patient in Punjab yet, confirmed the Primary and Secondary Health Care Punjab on Sunday.
The new strain, referred to by some experts as the B.1.17 lineage, is not the first variant of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is said to be up to 70% more transmissible than the previously dominant strain.
The health department's spokesperson explained that samples of passengers arriving from the UK are sent for gene sequencing to detect the presence of the new variant. However, a woman who tested positive for the coronavirus did not undergo gene sequencing.
"It is not possible to declare which type of coronavirus [a patient has been infected with] without gene sequencing," the spokesperson said. "It isn't necessary that these people — who were affected by the coronavirus in UK and returned to Pakistan — are infected with the new strain of the virus."
The presence of new coronavirus in Punjab will only be confirmed after gene sequencing, the official reiterated.
Pakistan's first three cases of the new coronavirus strain were detected in the port city of Karachi earlier this week, on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Sindh Health Department had said the new COVID-19 variant has been identified in samples taken from three passengers who recently returned from Britain.
The health department said it took samples of 12 UK returnees for genotyping out of which six tested positive for the coronavirus. "Three showed the new variant for the COVID-19 in the first phase of testing."